Monday, December 22, 2014

Isaiah's First Birthday in Pictures

Yesterday, December 21, we were blessed to celebrate Isaiah's first birthday.  It's amazing to think that a year ago, we had no idea our son was being born one thousand miles away.  God knew His plan for this precious little boy and our family -- what a blessing that we didn't need to know the details.  Three-and-a-half weeks later we would be holding Isaiah in our arms!  To God be the glory!

 He's one and he's on the move.  Gotta catch him when you can!

 I love my littlest boy!

 So does his daddy!
(Can you find Arielle in this picture?)

Not quite as planned, but feel the sibling love --
Isaiah felt it so much he had to close his eyes!

 Opening presents

 "I'm not sure I understand this gift opening thing..."

 Patiently awaiting CAKE!!!


It's all 
been so worth it!

~In Christ, Talya

"Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above..."  ~James 1:17a

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Somewhat of a Setback?

Today I was informed that yet another family is interested in BG.  To my knowledge, that makes three of us.  That's a blessing for BG in that the chances of finding a family to best fit her needs are greater.

On the other hand, the extended wait is excruciating for us.  Since the new family expressed their interest recently, the staff is determining if this family meets their criteria for consideration and if the family is interested in proceeding once they know more information.  If the plan is to move forward, BG's BIS (Best Interest Staffing) will not be for at least another 60 days.  If the new family bows out, then the BIS might take place in early January.

When we first started this process, we were concerned that our need to get so much stuff done and approved might be an unreasonable delay for BG in joining her forever family.  After all, another family was already interested and we had not yet started the lengthy process.  After prayer and asking some questions, we decided to proceed.  Originally, the thought was that the BIS would take place around late November/early December.  Now that we are looking at possibly February, I will admit I'm disappointed.

You know how sometimes you talk a good spiritual game about how you'll trust the Lord and be patient and content and..... yes, all that.  Well, sometimes, I fail miserably and this is one of those times.  Our adoption journey has been a rocky one for the past 4 1/2 years (with one really awesome high named, Isaiah!).  I am grateful to the Lord for what we've gone through and I'm hopeful, but I get discouraged.  Setbacks like this have me thinking that maybe they think this other family is a better fit than us and that we are just setting ourselves up for a huge letdown.

Okay, another secret.  When you are hoping to adopt, and especially when you've been chosen by a birth mother or met the child or identified a child that you hope will be your daughter, you begin to love that child.  You start making plans.  As much as you try to maintain a sort of detachment, you really can't... or at least I can't.  It's just like that moment when I would find out I was pregnant.  I would start planning our lives with the new addition even though he or she was microscopic in size.  I instantly loved that child.  Sometimes I would hold a beautiful baby at the end of the pregnancy and at other times I mourned the death of our child.  It's a tough road when faced with the reality that our hopes and dreams may not come to fruition.

I know the Lord has a plan for our family and for BG.  And all is not lost for our hope BG will join our family, but this road is not always easy.

In Christ, Talya

Thursday, December 4, 2014

We're at It Again! Part 2

The Lord has His special, all-knowing, all-powerful way of turning our plans upside down.  While I hope we are able to adopt another infant in the next few years, we are content and excited to follow this path of adoption through foster care.

So, where are we in the process?  

In July, we contacted the placing agency to express our interest in BG.  Another family had already expressed an interest, but they think it's best to have a couple families to choose from.  We had a phone consultation with the adoption recruiter, BG's caseworker, and a representative from the agency that completed our home study for Isaiah's adoption.  They told us more about BG and her background and asked if we still wanted to proceed.  Uh, yes! J

At the end of August, we began our 10 weeks of MAPP training, which ended on October 27.  In the middle of all that, we completed physicals, background checks, fingerprints, loads of paperwork, and requested references from some people we love and appreciate very much -- thanks, guys!  Even Josiah had to draw a picture of what his family would look like with BG as a part of it.

At the end of November, we had our home assessment visit.  Now, we are waiting for our home assessment update to be written, submitted and approved.  After that comes the huge step of the Best Interest Staffing (BIS).  It is at the BIS that BG's adoptive family will be chosen by the professionals involved in her case -- as far as I know, it will either be us or the other family.  We don't yet know when the staffing will be.  Although we think we are perfect for BG, the other family may be a better fit... only the Lord knows.

Please join us in prayer:
  • That we will trust the Lord and continue to seek His guidance throughout this process
  • That He will protect the hearts of all of us involved -- BG, the other family, and our family
  • That we will not live in a spirit of fear over what may or may not come to pass
  • That Sean and I will seek to parent any child in our home in ways that glorify Him
  • That we will be sensitive to the needs of a child who comes from very hard places
In Christ, Talya
Find Part 1 here

We're at It Again! Part 1

We are in the process of pursuing a second adoption.  Yep, you read me right. This time through foster care.  We haven't been chosen yet, but we are very hopeful.  In July, just 2 1/2 months after we finalized Isaiah's adoption, I was gathering some information for a friend who was interested in finding out more about adoption.  As I prepared to send her the link to the photolistings of waiting children, I saw a picture of "Beautiful Girl", BG for short.  Of course, that's not her real name, but I'll call her BG for the sake of confidentiality and because she is just that -- a beautiful girl.

Truth be told, I had seen her photo a few weeks earlier -- yeah, I stalk the photolistings -- but my plan was to try to adopt one more infant before even considering adopting an older child or sibling group from foster care.  I had many reasons for this grand plan.

First, many domestic infant adoption programs have a maximum age limit of somewhere around 45. Some go as far as 48 if you are willing to adopt a Black baby.  Part of the rationale is that birth mothers are less likely to choose a couple that is around the ages of their own parents.  Since adopting this way ain't cheap (but it is doable J ), the wait time to be chosen can vary significantly, and Sean and I are 42 and 41, respectively, we will be quickly approaching some of the age limits, especially if we don't immediately focus our attention on saving and preparing for another adoption. Those age limits aren't present when adopting an older child from foster care, so I figured we'd have time to do that later.

Second, the idea of adjusting our lives to meet the rules and regulations of the state government and foster care system was a less than desirable task that required much more thought.  As Christians who believe what the Bible says AND home school AND physically discipline our children, we weren't sure we could successfully go through the process of MAPP classes (30 hours of group adoption training) and assessments without compromising our integrity.  I used to be an adoption social worker for a public agency.  When I left in 2001, the winds of change were already blowing in the some areas that I would strongly oppose if I were presently in that field.

Well, one day I was speaking to a Christian woman who shared that she and her husband were pursuing an adoption from foster care.  They had taken the classes and were waiting to get a few more things done before their child would be placed in their home.  WHAT?!  A real-life Christian standing in front of me that I actually knew and shared similar values with us is actually progressing through the process?  Tell me more.  After our conversation, Sean and I talked about the possibilities and our hearts began to soften toward the idea.

The Lord was preparing us for our current path because as soon as I saw BG and read her profile, I believed we would be the perfect family for her.  In Christ, Talya
Find Part 2 here

Monday, July 7, 2014

The Magnetism of Racial Comfort

Sometimes I want to deny it’s there.  And for many, depending on your make up and your experiences, this may not be something you encounter.  Well, yesterday, I experienced a phenomenon I’ll call “racial comfort” for lack of a better term.  Some people may not “get” this post and that’s okay.  Maybe this post is more for me anyway.  Maybe I’m just letting you into my thoughts.

Yesterday, Isaiah was getting a little restless, so I sat with him in the lobby of our small church, near the front door.  We were about 45 minutes into the service, so I was somewhat surprised when an older Black woman entered the church  – surprised because we were already 45 minutes into service and surprised because she was Black (more about that in a second).  She looked through the windows on the doors to the sanctuary and explained that she had dropped her daughter and grandsons off and had gone to get money for the offering.  They had been trying to locate another church, but ended up at our church instead and decided to stay.  She didn’t want to enter the sanctuary while the pastor was speaking, so she sat in the chair next to mine and began talking to me and Isaiah.  She told me a little about herself, sat forward and said, “Let me hold that baby.”  Isaiah nestled in that woman’s bosom and drifted off to sleep.  As I watched this woman and listened to her, I was drawn to her.  I felt an instant comfort and connection that I hadn’t felt in while.  Why?  Let me explain.

I lived a great deal of my childhood and most of my adult life traversing a world where I was either the only or one of very few Black people.  We often lived in areas that were majority White.  Third through sixth grade, I was the only Black child.  In the eighth grade, there were me, another Black girl and a biracial girl who did not want to identify as any part of Black and teased me for being Black.  In college, we prided ourselves at being “minority students”, making up only around 10% of the student body.   I was often only one of a few Black people at my places of employment.  Even in my present church life with my own family, we have been part of majority White congregations since 2003.  I’m used to it.  We are all part of God’s created human race and I love my brothers and sisters of other skin colors and cultures.

But yesterday, when that Black woman walked through the door with her short, heavy-set stature, take-charge demeanor, dressed in her Sunday-go-to-meeting clothes, pantyhose, heels, smelling of perfume – I was taken home… a home where comfort was found among my Black family.  Though this woman was likely only a few years older than my parents and didn’t bear a particular resemblance to my relatives, she was familiar.  I knew her.  She reminded me of the times I watched my grandmother get ready for church, hearing the swish, swish of her pantyhose as she walked.  She reminded me of Sunday dinners – fried chicken, greens, macaroni & cheese and cornbread.  She reminded me of a comforting hug that only “Grandma” can give.  I didn’t realize until today, how much I missed those things.

You might ask if it was her race that was so important.  You might say, maybe an older White woman with those same qualities would have evoked those same emotions, those same memories.  I will admit there are a few White brothers and sisters at our church who take me close to home from time-to-time.   It might be a phrase they use, something they wear, or a story they tell that takes me almost there.  But as the saying goes, “almost only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades”.  It’s the whole package that takes me home – Black skin and a certain “way” she has about herself round out the package. 

Before anyone thinks I’ve gone off the racial deep end, I truly understand that ultimately my comfort (2 Corinthians 1:3) and my home (dwelling place, Psalm 90:1) are found in the Lord.  However, I believe the Lord gave me a little gift yesterday in the comfort of the familiar. 

I don't know if anyone will be able to relate to what I’ve written.  Honestly, I probably haven’t conveyed my thoughts in the most coherent fashion anyway.  But like I said at the beginning, I think maybe this post is more for me and I’m just letting you in.  In Christ, Talya

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Finalization Day!

Here's Isaiah's Finalization Day in pictures!

 Isaiah looking cute

Isaiah slept through the whole hearing

 Right after the hearing with Judge Wiley

 Outside the courtroom after the hearing

 With our awesome adoption attorney, Kevin Kenney

 Time to eat!

Proud sisters

 Proud grandmother and brother

Proud parents!

"Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change."  ~James 1:17   

In Christ, Talya

Thursday, April 17, 2014

The Date is Set!!!

Although we were told of the tentative date for the finalization of Isaiah's adoption a month ago, we just got our official notification in the mail today!  Yes, the afternoon of April 30th it is!!!!  I'm just so excited to see the date and time typed out on a signed official court document -- Order for Hearing on Petition for Adoption.  It's real... it's coming!  Yes, I'm giddy with excitement!  This little boy, who was our son in our hearts from the moment we heard his story, will legally be our son.

Although I had visions of a big, festive bash, they were fleeting.  Our celebration will be low key.  My mother plans to be here, which will be nice, especially since none of our extended family has meet Isaiah yet.  We'll probably eat lunch at a restaurant nearby, eat cake a little later (shout out to Caroletta's Cakes in Macon, GA), and resume life as usual.  However, our lives will be forever changed as it is whenever a family is blessed with a new child.

Although finalization does not change the way we view our relationships, it does change some behind-the-scene things.  Most importantly, we will be considered Isaiah's permanent, legal parents -- legal custody will be transferred from the adoption agency to us.  We will have all the same legal rights to Isaiah as if he were our biological son  He will be issued a new birth certificate with the name we've given him and our names as parents (some people have major issues with this practice, but that's for another blog post).  We'll be able to apply for his social security number.  We will be able to do things like travel and make medical decisions for Isaiah without consulting the agency.

I'll admit, one thing I won't miss is the constant reporting of our lives to multiple entities.  I understand the purpose, but it does get old... quick.  However, we will continue to send monthly update letters to Isaiah's birth mother through the Georgia agency.  I see those letters as a line of connection between Isaiah and us and his birth family.  Hopefully, they will spark a face-to-face meeting one day.

As each day goes by, I'm still amazed at how the Lord knits families together, both by biology and by adoption.  Some families are unmistakable by their strong resemblance, but some are as varied as a box of Crayola crayons, yet there is a bonding thread that runs between  them all.  To God be the glory!!!  In Christ, Talya

"I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to me, says the Lord Almighty." - 2 Cor. 6:18

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Last Post Placement Visit

Yesterday, we had our third and last post-placement supervision visit from our case worker.  Post-placement visits are the social worker’s visits with the adoptive family after a child has been placed in a home for the purpose of adoption.  These are conducted to make sure the adoptive placement is a good fit for the child and the family.  The social worker is available to help with the adjustment, offering encouragement, advice and resources as needed.  She then writes a report that is submitted to the adoption agency, attorneys and ultimately the court.  Each state differs in number and frequency of the visits.  We were required to have them monthly until finalization.  For us, that worked out to three visits in anticipation of an April 30 finalization date.

I was really nervous about our first visit, since I didn’t know what to expect.  I shouldn’t have worried.  We love our worker, Heather, and should have known it would be enjoyable and relaxed.  Generally, she would ask how Isaiah was doing – if he’s had any doctor’s visits, eating habits, sleeping habits, developmental milestones.  She also asked how the bonding process was going.  That was a challenging question for me because it’s hard to know how bonded you are to a three month old.  From our end, we love Isaiah as we loved our other children at that age.  Now from his side of things, the bond is yet to be determined.  He smiles and seems contented and settled with us.  I guess that’s evidence of a bond.

Each visit was also a time to just talk about life in light of adoption.  We discussed joys and challenges.  We talked about our plans to visit extended family this summer so they can meet Isaiah.  It was nice to talk to someone who understands what we’re talking about, even if through a professional lens.

Overall, I looked forward to each visit and was sad to have them come to an end.  We spent time praying at the end of yesterday’s visit.  Sean prayed for Heather and she prayed for us.  It was such a sweet time.

Once Heather sends the report of this last visit to our attorney and he files it with the court, we should be all set for finalization on the 30th!  In Christ, Talya

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

One Step Closer

Today we were notified that the termination of parental rights order and the agency consent to Isaiah's adoption -- our Georgia agency has legal custody of Isaiah until finalization and must give their consent -- are being forwarded to our attorney.  This means that Isaiah's birth father's parental rights were indeed terminated last week.  I believe that once our attorney files these documents with our local court and they are reviewed and found to be in order, we will be headed toward finalization on April 30!!!!  Yes, I said it... April 30!!!!  Lord willing, four weeks from today Isaiah will officially be our son!!!  I could scream!!!  AHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!  Okay, I feel better now.  :-)  In Christ, Talya  

"Father of the fatherless and protector of the widows is God in His holy habitation." ~Psalm 68:5

Monday, March 24, 2014


This was one of the days I had been looking forward to since we first held Isaiah in our arms.  Now that it’s here, my feelings are surprisingly mixed.  What made today so significant?  Today was the hearing to terminate the parental rights (TPR) of Isaiah’s birth father.  Since his birth mother’s rights have already been terminated, the fact that his birth father did not sign relinquishment paperwork was the main potential obstacle on our road to adopting Isaiah.

Our agency assured us as much as they possibly could that they did not think the birth father would seek to assert his rights.  Such assurance offered comfort and for the past two months, the Lord has given me peace so as not to obsess over the matter.  However, I will admit I marked this date on the calendar with great anticipation.

Over the past few days, I’ve noted a shift in my feelings.  I’m no longer giddy with excitement over the birth father’s TPR hearing, but rather I feel a great, unexpected sadness.  So much about adoption is bittersweet -- Isaiah is experiencing loss and gain simultaneously.  The Lord is helping me understand that particular dichotomy more and more.  I feel a sense of loss for what Isaiah is losing – the last legal link to his birth family – permanently.  This precious baby boy is oblivious to the fact that he will no longer be legally tied to the people the Lord used to give him life… the people who, despite whatever circumstances they were facing, chose life for Isaiah and cared enough to make an adoption plan for him.

I pray that the Lord uses this bittersweet feeling to help me be more sensitive to Isaiah’s feelings during the years ahead.  I hope I will understand the conflicted moments he may have.  I pray we are able to answer his questions truthfully in a manner that brings the Lord glory.  I pray I always remember that Isaiah is not mine, nor is he ours, but he is the Lord’s.  Because he belongs to God, we are mere stewards over him and have been charged with bringing him up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord (Ephesians 6:4b).  We know we are not his only family and we honestly love his birth family though we’ve never met them.  We want Isaiah to love them, too.

Isaiah means “the salvation of the Lord” and Stephen means “crowned”.  Our hope is that Isaiah is indeed one day “crowned with the salvation of the Lord” and that he is able to share the love of Christ with his birth family.  I don’t know if the order to terminate Isaiah’s birth father’s rights was actually signed today.  I didn’t hear anything… I guess no news is good news.  But I’m not rejoicing, I’m feeling a bit sad.  In Christ, Talya

Monday, January 13, 2014

Exciting Times

Since no one is aware of this blog, I feel relatively free to post that we will be heading to Georgia on Tuesday, January 14 (our 14th wedding anniversary by the way!) to meet a 3 1/2 week old baby boy in the hope of adopting him!!!!!!!!!  We hope to meet the little guy on Wednesday, January 15 (Arielle's 13th birthday).  We are soooooo excited!  It is a legal risk placement because the birth father has not yet signed over his parental rights.  So our enthusiasm is tempered ever so slightly, but we are trusting in the Lord to prepare our hearts for whatever the outcome may be.

After losing four babies to miscarriage (three of them consecutive), I know what it's like to get your and everyone else's hopes up only to have them dashed with grief.  I loathed the repeated explanations I had to give and the often hurtful, albeit well-intended, comments from those closest to me.  Likewise, throughout our adoption journey, we've had some extremely disappointing "false starts" for lack of a better term.  We've been chosen by birthparents three times, even to the point of meeting the child and scheduling visitation and placement date, but for varied reasons a child was not placed with us.

This situation finds us very hopeful... somewhat guarded, but very hopeful.  I've packed everything for the baby.  We kept everything from Josiah, so clothes, linen, car seat, stroller, swing, tub and many other items are taken care of.  The girls are starting to pack their things.  We had the joy of sharing the news with our church family today.  The outpouring of love and generosity was amazing.  We've only been at our church for a year, but honestly, everyone's reaction is not surprising -- they have always shown such love from our first Sunday there.  We so covet their prayers and were happy to share this journey with them.

Some points for specific prayer are as follows:

~ safe travel to Georgia
~ peace & salvation for birthparents
~ our hearts would be prepared for whatever outcome we face
~ our patience, wisdom & strength as we care for a newborn in a hotel room :-)
~ baby's health
~ Quick ICPC (Interstate Compact for Placement of Children) approval -- necessary to take the baby back home
~ that our other children will remain at peace and constructively engaged while spending lots of time in hotel room

To God be the glory in all things!  In Christ, Talya